The Sayings of Senator Lopez

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Senate Rules Committee: Where ethics bills go to die

Feb. 25, 2009: She (Sen. Linda Lopez) also promised to begin discussion on the proposal to create a state ethics commission “first thing” Friday, but said working out disagreements and drafting a committee substitute bill that combines several existing bills related to that controversial proposal will “take a little more time.” NM Independent

Feb. 28, 2009: “We do not let out every bill on its own. That’s not good law,” she (Lopez) said, promising, “the list looks long, but we’ll get some stuff moving this next week.” Santa Fe New Mexican

March 3, 2009: After the meeting, the committee chair, Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Bernalillo, said that the bills were moving slowly because the committee was “trying to reach consensus.” NM Independent

March 19, 2009: When asked whether she believed the issue was dead, Lopez said: “At least for this year — yes.” Several other ethics commission bills — including one sponsored by Lopez — have been pending for weeks in the Rules Committee… Albuquerque Journal

So one of the key ethics reforms of this session — an independent ethics commission — has been pronounced dead for another year.

In the dizzying wake of so many public corruption scandals, and just two days after the sentencing of former Senator Manny Aragon, New Mexico finds itself stuck in the dwindling list of state that still do not have an ethics commission.

A key figure in this ongoing public policy quagmire, Rules Committee Chair Linda Lopez presents a fascinating study in contradictions.  On the issue of ethics reform, she strikes the pose of the ultra-cautious, deliberative lawmaker, working behind the scenes to hammer out a studied consensus between her colleagues.  They’re really the recalcitrant ones, you know. We must not rush to judgment in these weighty matters, she tells us.

So another week turns into another year, then another and another.

Yet in her other legislative persona, Lopez is the go-go-Senator-in-a-hurry,  boldly taking the TIDD tool where no TIDD has gone before, fast tracking a $400 million taxpayer handout to California developer SunCal — and obligating a good chunk of state revenues for the next 25 years.

Whoosh!

Here’s more of the backstory on Madam Chair and her committee — where ethics bills go to die:

Watching grass grow in the Senate Rules Committee – NM Independent

Ethics Update: Constipation is painless compared to this – Clearly New Mexico

N.M. Sen. Dede Feldman to try to force vote on open conference committees – NM Independent

Sen. Linda Lopez Continues Delays on Ethics Bills in NM Senate Rules Committee – Democracy for New Mexico

Committee’s late start affects ethics reform – Heath Haussamen

All she Wrote: Ethics reform debate rattles on – Sherry Robinson, Raton Range

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3 Responses

  1. It is clear to me that if we want an ethics commission in New Mexico, we should begin “hoping” right now that it will come in the next session of the legislature. It it doesn’t, we should “hope” that it will come in the one after that. We should never stop “hoping” for ethics reform.

    It is said that doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result, is a sign of crazy.

    Perhaps it is time to stop “hoping” and try something else.

    My vote would be for a huge public rally on the steps of the Roundhouse, on the first day of the next session.

  2. Good idea, the rally that is. Let’s do it! Let’s make it about a bunch of progressive issues, let the roundhous know we have the POWER!

  3. With Legislators always using the meme of listening to their constituents, then they really dropped the ball on the ethics issue. It’s imperative to bring this idea into action and while a rally is one good thing to help bring this to light next year, we also need to make sure to hold Legislators accountable who didn’t listen to their constituents on this issue.

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